Archive for Big Readers A place for discussing books and all things bookish.

       Big Readers Forum Index -> What non-fiction are you reading?

Defying Hitler by Sebastian Haffner

From:   Marita_Roza  (Original Message)        Sent: 7/1/2008 3:21 AM
In 1939 Raymond Pretzel left Germany under pretence of writing a series of articles for a paper but in reality to join his girlfriend in England.
He eventually found a publisher willing to pay him £2 per week to write a book (Geschichte eines Deutschen) that would answer the questions “How did the Nazis come to power?” and “Why didn’t anybody stop them”.
To protect his family in Germany, he used the name Sebastian Haffner.
He had written 270 pages when war broke out and another question needed answering: “How can we defeat Germany”.
So he put the unfinished manuscript away and set about answering the more pressing question.
After his death Haffner’s children found the manuscript and had it published in its unfinished state.

Defying Hitler is the story of an ordinary German who tells in an ordinary way how he saw the First World War as a young boy and what happened in Germany afterwards. I learned a lot about Germany between the wars (for instance that there had been a revolution) and how the Nazis grabbed the power in a country that didn’t really want them.
It is chilling to read what methods the Nazis used to influence people. In the end there was no way out for those who couldn’t leave Germany.

This is an important book to read, not just to learn what happened in Germany under the Nazis, but to recognize the tricks that could be used on us today.
Haffner thought that it was the German character that predisposed them to accept the Nazis.
I think he was wrong. Given the right circumstances anybody can fall victim to the methods the Nazis used.
If we don’t heed history, we’re bound to repeat it.

From:   RustyNutSinger1                                Sent: 7/2/2008 4:28 PM
I read this book a year or two ago and was quite impressed by it.
It's a point of view I had not encountered before in all the commentary on the Nazi phenomenon.

From:   Marita_Roza                                      Sent: 7/15/2008 1:51 PM
Sorry I haven’t answered earlier but I haven’t been online in ages.
Defying Hitler makes the “we didn’t know” excuse somewhat empty, doesn't it. If Sebastian Haffner knew all this, why didn’t anybody else?
No wonder there was an (unsuccessful) attempt to discredit the book when it first appeared.

I thought the story of its publication was just as interesting as the book itself.
There was chapter 10 that had to be retranslated into German from the bad English translation Haffner had done himself and chapter 25 that was only the abbreviated version that had appeared in Stern magazine.
Then after publication the full version of chapter 25 was found as well as chapters 35 to 40. These last couple of chapters are probably the most chilling of all and really show the kind of brainwashing that went on.

From:   A_is_for_apple0                              Sent: 7/27/2008 3:26 PM
This sounds right up my street! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

From:   RustyNutSinger1                              Sent: 9/30/2008 6:48 PM
Oops! I didn't see your response till just now, Marita. I didn't know anything about the publication of the book - it does sound interesting!

I had similarly high hopes for Irene Nemirovsky's Suite Francaise, because it was also written by someone who 'was there at the time' and while she was there, but it was much less compelling. I may have mentioned it already but I'll say it again - a non-fiction account of her experience would have (or could have, at least) been much more powerful.

Thanks for copying this over, unfortunately I did exactly the same thing at about the same time (spooky!) as I am currently reading it - sorry! I have now deleted my copy of it and apologies for not noticing this one.

Apple wrote:
Thanks for copying this over, unfortunately I did exactly the same thing at about the same time (spooky!) as I am currently reading it - sorry! I have now deleted my copy of it and apologies for not noticing this one.

Apple. As Himadri said the same posts can be put on any topic so no harm is done & very few of us read every post!
I'm looking forward to reading this one shortly - cheers your fellow spook Idea

I'm absolutely speechless! I have just finished this book and it was one of THE most enlightening, chilling and yet somehow least biased views of the second world war I have ever come across. As a previous poster said it shoots the "We had no idea what was happening" case that most Germans plead down in flames completely.

Words cannot describe how good this book is I literally could not put it down, I sat intending of having a short read a few pages before I went to bed, the other evening and I had to force myself to put it down in the early hours of the morning, and I finished it the following evening, and it actually manages to shed a new light and a new perspective on a subject which has been written and analised to death.

       Big Readers Forum Index -> What non-fiction are you reading?
Page 1 of 1
Create your own free forum | Buy a domain to use with your forum